APC Article Reprints

Marine Coatings

Advanced Polymer Coatings’ MarineLine® 784 cargo coating/lining system gives shipowners more versatility in carrying a wide range of cargoes.

The following are excerpts from an article in Coatings World.

The market for marine coatings has continued to show signs of improvement. Expectations are that growth will continue in 2012 and beyond, as Asia Pacific continues to lead the way in new shipbuilding and dry-docking.

The global marine coatings market started recovering from the economic downturn during 2010 and the global marine market performed as predicted in 2011.

With the world economic slowdown, the number of newbuild chemical tankers coming onto the market saw a sharp decrease in 2011, according to Donald Keehan, chairman of Advanced Polymer Coatings (APC). “However, APC’s MarineLine cargo tank coating/lining system was already specified on a number of vessels, so we were able to maintain our momentum,” he said.

For 2012 APC is focusing on several additional markets. “First are product tankers, which are larger ships than chemical carriers,” said Keehan. “These vessels carry bulk liquid cargoes such as clean petroleum products, vegetable oils, biofuels and methanol. The MarineLine system is ideal for these applications. Second, we are focusing on the recoating market. As the previous cargo tank coatings used on chemical and product tankers reach the end of their life cycle, they need to be replaced.”

Ship owners are always looking to obtain the highest return on their investment (ROI). “Coatings are an important part of that mix, whether it be general maintenance coatings, hull coatings or tank coatings,” said Keehan. “Specifically, in addressing our specialty, the cargo tank lining/coating that delivers the best performance helps the ship owner immensely. In a downturn economy that we are seeing now, the ability to quickly and easily switch between cargoes is critical. So you need a coating/lining that cleans easily, and can handle a wide range of various products. That is why MarineLine has seen such growth during the past 10 years.”

In terms of geographic growth, Asia Pacific continues to be the leading consumer of marine coatings. As the world’s largest producer of newbuild ships as well as being a leader in dry-docking, the Asia Pacific region remains the most important area for marine coatings manufacturers.

“Speaking for MarineLine coatings, our major markets in the world are where ships are constructed, and or repaired,” said Keehan. “This covers much of Asia, especially Korea and China. We work in almost all the leading ports. We have also performed a lot of cargo tank coating work in Europe, with Turkey being a niche leader in building small and mid-size chemical tankers.”

Although the outlook for growth is generally positive, marine coatings manufacturers must still contend with high raw material prices. APC has worked to revise and streamline its polymer manufacturing operation, as the polymer is a key component in its coatings formulations.

“Previously we employed outside chemical companies to toll-manufacture certain elements of the polymer,” said Keehan. “Now these various tasks are done with a joint venture partner to reduce our cost exposure. The cost savings has allowed us to put forth aggressive pricing. We have taken a very competitive pricing stance versus other coatings such as conventional phenolic epoxy cargo tank coatings, while providing a superior product. This is particularly important in the refurbishing market as older product tankers come to dry dock to be retrofitted, including replacing and or upgrading their tank coatings.”

Advanced Polymer Coatings continues to offer the MarineLine coating system, but are now taking this into newer areas such as the larger, growing product tanker market, while still maintaining a strong presence in serving chemical tankers.

According to Keehan, chartering segments, such as biofuels, are enjoying growth. “In this area, growing at an estimated 15 percent annually, ship owners want to get into this market, but they are concerned with carrying biofuels due to the corrosive nature of the cargoes and their detrimental effect and breakdown of a conventional tank coating or the corrosion that occurs in a stainless steel tank,” he said. “MarineLine’s unique corrosion-resistant coating provides a tightly-knit polymer-based structure that can easily handle biofuels.”

In news outside APC’s traditional work on cargo tank coatings, as this issue went to press, the company signed a letter of intent with Reactive Surfaces in Austin, Texas to combine technologies in a joint venture to develop exterior marine coatings functionalized with bio-based additives for submersed hull surfaces and stationary structures.

“We hope in the years ahead to take advantage of the growing 'green' trend for non-toxic, low drag underwater vessel surfaces by introducing bio-based functionality into coatings using natural biomaterials, such as proteins and peptides,” said Keehan.